Why My Daughter Cannot Go to School

Madison attended public school for Kinder and First Grade. She was miserable. For both grades. I see pictures pop up on my newsfeed for the Facebook memories and during that time she is always sleeping. She was exhausted. I would even go as far as to say she was depressed. 

Was that the school’s fault? The teacher’s fault? I want to say partially. But in reality, I understand their job is to teach to all students, not just one. There is probably no way they could have effectively accommodated Madison. Do I wish they had tried? Absolutely. Was it a blessing they didn’t? In hindsight, yes. 

I never thought I’d be homeschooling Madison for her elementary, middle school or high school years. She begged me to. And I will be the first to raise my hand and say the job of doing so is hard. Not only hard, but life consuming. 

Life consuming, but worth every minute. 

Do I wish I could open up a boxed curriculum and have a set schedule? Yes, every day. But I have accepted the fact that I cannot. I have accepted the fact that I will always be tired and always will be figuring out how to keep up with Madison. 

I have also come to terms that very few will understand. We can only relate to what we know. If I am looked down upon for that, I am fine with it. If I wasn’t homeschooling a special needs child then I would have more time. But I don’t. And in the end all that matters is that my child is healthy and her needs are met. 

There is a scale. And that scale determines if a child is special needs. And that determination is based on each end of the spectrum. Each end. Especially the very ends. 

So no, my child would not thrive in a school setting. Maybe she would in a setting designed for children like her and there are those settings, but it’s not in the cards for us right now financially and it isn’t a part of her plan. The plan I try to keep up with to help her achieve. I pray each evening that I can do that. 

She makes jumps that I cannot explain. She marches to her own beat at her own pace and it’s not a pace a school could accommodate. She would only be held back and frustrated. 

Madison told me the other day that being gifted is like being in jail. You are locked up and are waiting for someone to save you. Someone she can connect with. Not a parent. She feels she cannot be herself around others. And honestly, she’s right. No one her age wants to have deep, intellectual conversations about history. And why would they? 

So while others are planning fun outings and craft projects, I am trying to figure out ways my child can make the connections she needs. And I am not sure they even exist. 

Gifted children have different things that they are very interested in. Most are interested in science or math. Madison loves History. She wants to find someone to talk about history. She wants to find someone who shares the same depth of feeling about things that she does. 

I wish there was a manual. There isn’t though, so I am trying to do the best I can. 

Wish me luck. 

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All Children Deserve to Grow


Sometimes it may seem like some children need less help than others. 

Some children give the perception that they ‘have it made.’

When this perception is made, two things generally tend to occur:

1. The expectations put on them are so high that there is no way they can succeed. 

Or

2. They are completely ignored. Because they are already much father ahead than their peers.

Neither of these are healthy solutions for a gifted child. 

All children deserve a right to grow and learn from all of their experiences in appropriate and positive ways. 

If anyone thinks for a moment that they don’t, they are robbing the future of a child. A deserving child. A hardworking child. A child who has been inspired by example. 

When your child is perceived as a ‘rock star’ you are grateful for the recognition, but you still want genuine feedback that they can use to grow. You don’t want them to be ignored. Everyone can learn and grow, not matter how good they are at something or how knowledgeable they are. 

However, at the same time you are grateful the feedback is not so harsh that they could not achieve what is expected of them even if they tried. 

There’s always a happy medium and with a gifted child, it’s hard for parents to understand let alone anyone else. 

But it can be done. I’ve seen it and it creates magic. It creates goals to be reached and is positive. And the people who can do that should be the ones that are leading and teaching. Teaching others how to make precieved ‘rock stars’ into human beings that crave to learn and grow for eternity. Just with the correct feedback. And others who lead by example, by wanting to do good and finding a way to do it in a way that is inspiring. 

For my daughter, that person was a specific judge in her speech and debate tournament last year. The feedback provided was invaluable and  greatly appreciated. It was what opened the doors for her to reach for the stars and to grow. Or a stranger that wants to show gratitude and does it in an amazing way that leaves an imprint on my daughter to ‘pay it forward’ for the rest of her life. 

This kind of knowledge or example doesn’t come easily. It should be cherished. 

It’s the same concept as teaching a child the difference between right from wrong or being a good citizen and doing the right thing. Always.

If something comes easily to a child, they still have the right to grow and learn, as much as the child to who things do not come easily. 

Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to succeed on their own terms and to have the opportunity to be a better person. Regardless of when, why or how. And example is the best way to guide and show this generation how to do that and to make a difference. For a lifetime. 

I am forever grateful for those who inspire and encourage children for the sake of the greater good. 

Thank you. You are truly appreciated. 

What Does a Typical Day Look Like For Us?


Our days tend to vary depending on what activities we have planned. Each week Madison has piano, American Heritage girls, Homeschool PE, Park Day with friends, Speech and Debate and Religion. We usually have a field trip or two each week as well. And once a month she has a Perot Junior Master Naturalist class and coordinating field trip. 

So, with that said, here’s what a typical day for us looks like:

Monday:

Treadmill for 10 minutes while listening to A History of Us

Daily Devotion

A chapter in Jesus Our Guide

Exercise: Plank for 25 seconds

Math: One lesson in Thinkwell Math. Online lecture and 9 problems online. If 100% correct then she’s done, if not then the coordinating worksheet.

Exercise: Jump Rope for 5 minutes

Moving Beyond the Page Wrinkle in Time:

Read the lesson plan, read a chapter and do Q&A verbally with mom. 

Exercise: Dance Dance Revolution 10 min

Moving Beyond the Page Activity one

Exercise: Just Dance 10 minutes

Moving Beyond the Page Activity Two

Exercise: Ride the scooter board around the house for 10 minutes

Moving Beyond the Page Activity Three

Exercise: Yoga for 10 minutes

Practice Informative Speech 

Exercise: Run up and down the stairs 5 times

Moving Beyond the Page Cells (Science) 

Read lesson 

Activity One

Activity Two

Activity Three

Practice Open Interpretation Speech 

Rosetta Stone Spanish

Piano Lesson

Free play outside 

Free play inside

Dinner

American Heritage Girls

Lunch is thrown in somewhere above when it fits. πŸ™‚ 

The days we do not have activities she also does lessons on chess kids, Khan Academy, Prodigy, poetry, crafts, art, legos, drawing, music appreciation, etc.

I don’t specify a free reading time because she’s always reading and I usually have to take a book away from her to have her do something else. 

On the days that have less activities we are able to fit in more exercise and I mix them up each day. She also gets 90 minutes a week in homeschool PE and we try to visit different parks a couple of times a week. 

If we do not have an evening activity, Jeff usually plays a board game or chess each evening with Madison and also reads to her out loud. They are currently reading The Children’s Homer. This gives me an opportunity to have a break from being ‘on’ all day and to prep and plan for the next day. πŸ™‚ 

Moving Beyond The Page

I shared what a typical day looks like for us and in that post I referenced using Moving Beyond the Page and doing the activities. 

I wanted to share a sample of what exactly that entails.

At this age the curriculum is set up so that she can do it independently. I still have to prep and prepare to make sure she has everything she needs to do for each activity because they vary from worksheets to hands on activities and also to make sure I understand them in case she has questions. 

We are starting the Wrinkle in Time unit and this is what she will do tomorrow:

She will read the lesson plan and chapter 1:

We do the Q&A verbally together (I have an answer guide.) 😌

And then she does Activity1, 2 and 3 and reads the wrap up. 

Here is an example of the coordinating worksheet for Activity 2: 


It is very well laid out and she loves how it is based off of literature and allows her to be creative and think outside the box. 

It is the perfect curriculum for gifted children who love to read! It also mixes things up with the different activities so kids don’t get bored with redundant lessons. 

For the Cells science unit we are doing here is what a lesson and activities look like:



It is great information presented in an engaging way and allows Madison to go in depth while having a good mix of projects and creative learning too. 

When the curriculum has a link for her to read off of a website, I go in and print it for her instead. She doesn’t like to read on the computer and I like to keep screen time at a minimum and would rather save it for other things and not reading. It doesn’t take much time to print. That’s just part of my prep. 

So that is a glimpse into what I mean by lessons and activities with Moving Beyond the Page and why Madison loves it so much and why it has worked very well for us. She absorbs and retains information best when she uses Moving Beyond the Page

Jumping on the Khan Academy Train

So I know technology is important. I also understand from working at Sprint in the product marketing department how important it is to adapt to changing technology and that it changes extremely rapidly. That was 9 1/2 years ago and I know it’s changed immensely since then. 

As a homeschooler of a gifted child, it is hard to balance a morph of classical education, Charlotte Mason education, modern education that is aligned to standards and rapid acceleration all at the same time, let alone implementing technology. But, I’m going to find a way to do it. 

We tried computer programming through Khan Academy awhile back after Madison took a Scratch summer camp. She liked it, but I noticed the Math required was more then she knew at the time. We tabled it. 

In the meantime, I have been checking out the educator resources that are offered for free from Kodable.com to get us started. 

Then I saw an email come through from Khan Academy on Pixar in a Box and the Color Science

Madison started the Science of Color today and loved it! 

I also realized they have Computer Science too. I am going to have her continue with the Color Science and then move on to Animation. While she is working on these, I’m going to work on the educator lessons from Kodable. 

Madison already likes Algebra, but I think she’ll love seeing how it is used in animation and will be even more motivated to learn it to progress as well as Geometry.  

I know technology is something she needs to be more in touch with and so we are going to throw it into the mix, in a balanced way. She won’t be trading in her books or love for nature, but it will be a nice addition to help expand her skill set and knowledge base. 

Operation Christmas Boxes


Madison’s American Heritage Girls Troop collects Operation Christmas Boxes each year. She absolutely loves this service project.

This year she chose to make 6 boxes. Three boxes for 10-14 year old girls and three boxes for 10-14 year old boys. That age range receives the least amount of boxes, so that is why she chose them and decided to make up 6 boxes. Madison did a great job of finding things on sale and collecting things throughout the year. She used her own money to purchase all of the items and she put a lot of thought into the items she chose for these boxes.

For the boxes for the boys, she packed a deflated size 5 soccer ball and an air pump, a box of crayons, a glue stick, 2 pink erasers and 2 pencil top erasers, pencils and pens, work gloves, a pencil sharpener, markers, combs, ivory soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a toothbrush holder, deodorant, a calculator that is solar powered, colored pencils, a wooden airplane kit, a tape measure, a variety of screws in different sizes and a screw driver set. She will also include blank paper and a couple of mini notebooks as well. The ball takes up a lot of space, so choosing the most important items to fill the rest of the box with is important.


For the boxes for the girls, she packed hair bands, a tooth brush, toothpaste, a toothbrush holder, deodorant, soap, a hairbrush, Kleenex, a sewing kit, a couple of quarters of material, colored pencils, water color paints, a pencil sharpener, a couple of bracelet making sets, markers, crayons, pencils, pens and erasers, a glue stick, a jump rope, flavored chapsticks, 6 pairs of socks, mini notebooks, and a manicure set. She will add blank paper as well.


Madison also filled out sheets to include in each box.

Here is the front of the sheet:


And the back of the sheet:


The printable sheet can be found HERE.

After we assemble the boxes we print off labels online. This is how we mark if it’s for a boy or girl and the age range as well as pay the donation for shipping that allows us to receive a note that tells us where our boxes ended up! That’s pretty cool!

This is a wonderful service project that Madison looks forward to all year long and we are grateful for the opportunity Β to participate.

If you want to participate too and don’t have time to gather items, you can build a box online! It’s the perfect way to kick off the holiday season!

Curriculum Update


We are going to change up our curriculum yet again. Ha! Ha! It will always be this way since I have to adapt to Madison and I’ve grown accustomed to it.

I’ve learned that Madison has ‘jumps’ and ‘windows.’ Those are part of her strengths.

Honestly, it’s really hard to use a set curriculum because most them review and repeat with added information. This doesn’t work for us because Madison remembers everything in usually one repetition so she gets frustrated when she has to read or learn anything she already knows.

This created a problem for me because the curriculum expanded on what she had learned and had more detail. We found this to be a problem in Moving Beyond the Page which we were using and any other curriculum available.

I think I found a solution. Madison really likes Moving Beyond the Page, so I went online and read through every syllabus at each level. I pinpointed the subject matter that was repetitive and I ordered the highest level of each of those and the ones that weren’t repetitive. She learns best from using Moving Beyond the Page, she just couldn’t handle the review that kids normally need. Even using a gifted curriculum that doesn’t have as much repetition as a regular curriculum would.

Testing and meeting with the psychologist confirmed that this was the right approach.

So for now, I am going to cut out the busy work we were doing. We are going to focus on using our Moving Beyond the Page curriculum. We’ll see how long it takes to get through it, but I am very grateful they are releasing their high school curriculum in the Fall of 2017.

We have a lot of science to get through before that though. I’m glad she likes science.

As for Math, we are currently using Thinkwell 7th grade. She is doing well with it, but really liked the algebraic reasoning. The Homeschool Buyers co-op is offering a discount on Thinkwell Math starting on 11/25, so I am going to purchase Algebra I and see how that goes. She will continue using the 7th grade until that point.

We are going to start the Moving Beyond the Page Wrinkle in Time unit next week. It is from the 9-11 Β age, but it looks like a good one and I already have it. After we complete it, she will read all of the books in the 10-12 age, but the only unit we will do in Language Arts will be The Secret if the Andes. We will also be doing our own thing for ancient history and will only do the Elizabethan social studies unit from the 11-13 age and probably won’t do any of the language arts from that age range.

As for Science, we are finishing up the cells unit from the 10-12 age range and then we will do the matter unit from that same age. We will also complete the Kitchen Chemistry book that goes with the chemical change unit, but we aren’t going to actually do the unit, just the book. I haven’t decided if we are going to go on to the Atmosphere from the 11-12 age or if we are going to do a unit study from Intelligo on Space first. I’ll decide that later.

As for Social Studies…reading our way through US history felt like it was taking too long. Granted she read and learned about each clause in the Constitution up to the Bill of Rights, but I still felt we had gaps, we had been doing this since last April and I didn’t want her to burn out on it. So, she is currently listening to the rest of US History by using the History of Us audio books. She loves listening to it and is gaining a great deal of knowledge. She loves to read, so I know she’ll end up reading the books we were working on in her own time. She finished A House of Tailors and If you had your name changed at Ellis Island in one day while still listening to the audio books as well, so we can get the best of both worlds.

After we complete US History, we will move on to World History. It’s been a couple of years since she listened to the Story of the World, so we will do that again and add more. I’m excited and I will share more on that when we get closer to it.

After the holidays we will pick back up with adding Wordly Wise book 6 and Latin. I am also checking out some really neat stuff on Kahn Academy and she will dive into coding some more as well. I also really like the independent learning courses that Duke Tip offers, so we may try those along the way too.

So that’s the new plan. πŸ™‚ We’ll see how long it lasts. I’m sure I’ll have to readjust for her jumps and windows along the way, but I’m hoping this set up will help accommodate the jumps.

Let’s Get Crackin’Β 


I had the follow up visit with the psychologist today regarding Madison’s neuro eval. I’m still processing everything and I will receive a report in the mail in a week or so. 

I’ve had some time to digest and I’ve realized the feedback I received I already knew deep down, however I didn’t fully trust myself as strongly as I have advocated for her to everyone else because I was afraid I was wrong. I’m not wrong. It was a shell shock that I wasn’t  wrong, but I needed the confirmation. That’s why we did the neuro eval to begin with. My parents and Jeff were not as shocked as I was. Apparently it was what I had been telling them all along.   This test truly reflected why she wasn’t able to be successful in a regular school setting and confirmed what I had known all along. The WISC V is the latest test and her age makes the scores she received this time more reliable. I also think the fact she wasn’t squashed like she was in Kinder and First grade made a huge difference. She’s definitely not the same child. She’s much happier and confident in who she is as a person. 

Madison has major strengths and relative weaknesses. She does not have anything that would be officially diagnosed as a disability at this point. I believe that with interventions that will be laid out in the report that we will implement will enable her to strengthen her relative weaknesses. If not, we will address that later in the future. She has no excuses and neither do I. 
I know exactly what her weaknesses are, I was just concerned that if they were caused by a disability that I would scar her for life if I cracked down and pushed her. I had to know for sure from a professional. Now I can stop hindering her and she can grow. 

Our new motto is Let’s Get Crackin’. πŸ˜‚ Madison loves Joe’s Crab Shack. 

Today I let Madison know that she didn’t have any disabilities. She is fully capable. She has weaknesses that are going to require effort to work on. She was very receptive to this. I know going forward she won’t always be and I am prepared for that. It isn’t easy working on weaknesses and it takes a lot of work, consistency and patience on my part. We will both grow from this experience. 

With the information in hand, I will be able to make confident choices in her education going forward and receive more support on the direction to take with her.  

So here’s to buckling down, not making excuses and working on our weaknesses. And counting our blessings for the path we have taken so far. It has been the right one and I needed to know that. 

No one knows a child better than their mother. Always trust the mother instinct. Always. 

October Gifted Homeschooling Update


Time flies by when you’re having fun! 

Next year I am going to have to remember that November and December are always busy, so I shouldn’t schedule as much in September and October. πŸ™‚ 

Madison has kept busy this month with piano lessons, American Heritage Girls, Homeschool PE and the Junior Master Naturalist Program at the Perot. 

We had fun exploring and hiking and trying out new parks. It’s part of our goal of 60 minutes of daily aerobic activity. 



We also took a trip to Kansas City, KS to visit my parents, celebrate my mom’s birthday, and for Jeff to watch his son play in his college football game. We enjoyed brunch with my aunt and uncle and cousin and his family. Madison went fishing with my dad and enjoyed playing chess with him. It was a very nice trip. 

Madison flew in a RV-4 and even got to take over the controls for a bit and fly the plane!

We went to the Dallas Symphony and enjoyed The Best Goes On. 

Trunk or Treat was a huge hit at our church and Madison dressed up as Saint Catherine. 

Madison also had a neuro psych exam. I have a meeting next month to find out the results.

We were excited to find out that Madison won the Give a Dog a Bowl Contest through Color Me Mine. She and Tucker appreciate all of the votes! 

We enjoyed going to the pumpkin patch with friends and Madison took the obligatory height picture. πŸ™‚ 

The Dallas Museum of Art homeschool classes are always a lot fun! The class this month was Sensory Explorations. 


Madison and Jeff went on a geology field trip with the Junior Master Natrualist Program. 

 

And we ended the month with handing out candy and some more trick or treating for Halloween.

First, we went to a local senior rehabilitation facility to trick or treat. 


And then Madison was excited to hand out candy. 


She enjoyed trick or treating after handing candy out and had a very big and  unexpected surprise. More on that to come. 

I will post a curriculum and exercise update next.